Dissident teachers have filed a criminal complaint against the boss of the SNTE teachers’ union, accusing him of embezzlement.
The teachers claim that Juan Díaz de la Torre has illegally diverted millions of pesos in union fees and contributions during his five-year tenure at the helm of the union.
The complaint was presented yesterday to the federal Attorney General’s office (PGR).
The spokesman for the group told the newspaper Reforma that the union’s members expect the PGR to summon de la Torre to make a statement about the whereabouts of the missing funds.
“. . . There are thousands of teachers in the country who are in the dark because they don’t know what their money is being used for,” Venancio Morales said. “We are demanding that all this be clarified . . . because we presume embezzlement.”
Morales explained that for the past 10 years union members have not been informed about the status of 20 billion pesos (US $1 billion) held in a teachers’ retirement fund.
“. . . No teacher knows the fate of that money, that’s why we’re asking for accountability in front of the authorities . . . Juan Díaz de la Torre is a usurper . . . and an illegal leader . . .” he said.
In response to the group’s claims, the SNTE filed its own complaint with the PGR, accusing union members, including Morales, of providing false information.
“[The complaint against de la Torre] indicates facts and versions of events that are totally false and devoid of reality,” said the SNTE complaint, filed by the union’s legal representative, Soralla Bañuelos de la Torre.
The complaint said that the fallacy of the dissident teachers’ claims will be proven by documentation the SNTE will present to the PGR when required, adding that the union’s objective is to defend the labor, economic, social and professional rights of its members.
Meanwhile, Díaz’s leadership is being challenged by his predecessor.
Former long-serving SNTE boss Elba Esther Gordillo, released from house arrest in August after she was absolved of corruption charges, reappeared yesterday.
In a video posted to social media, the ex-chief commonly known as La Maestra (The Teacher) is seen addressing a meeting of the anti-Díaz teachers’ organization Maestros Por México (Teachers For Mexico).
During her speech, Gordillo claimed she was still the real leader of the SNTE.
“. . . As I demonstrated my innocence, I am still the president of the union. What Juan Díaz has is the teachers’ checkbook. What I have is the leadership of the workers. That’s the difference,” Gordillo said.
She also urged members to rescue the union via a secret leadership ballot and said that never again would she allow any government to “insult the nation’s teachers.”